Review: The Place I Call Home Festival

Anything with Sharon D Clarke zumbaing to ‘Sissy That Walk’ has to be worth your time right?! The Place I Call Home Festival explores new writing through new technology in a fascinating way but book now!

“Another day and we’re sat here doing nothing again”

Paines Plough have always been a company to do theatre a bit differently so it is no surprise to see them responding innovatively to the restrictions imposed by coronavirus. The Place I Call Home is a two-week digital festival of new work, taking the opportunity to explore multiple mediums and international collaborations as three new bilingual plays take place across Zoom, email, WhatsApp and good old snail mail.

Pinging daily into WhatsApp, A Brief History of Struggle by Dipo Baruwa-Etti and Calle Fuhr presents 5 minute snapshots of conversations that might be overheard on park benches. Scenes switch between London and Dortmund and span 1928 to 2020 so the whole thing is necessarily quite fragmented. And as engaging some of the segments are, from burgeoning feminist rights to reactions to immense tragedy, there’s little sense of a cumulative dramatic effect to match the novel delivery. Continue reading “Review: The Place I Call Home Festival”

20 shows to look forward to in 2019

So many of the recommendations for shows to see next year focus on the West End. And for sure, I’m excited to catch big ticket numbers like All About Eve, Come From Away, and Waitress but I wanted to cast my eye a little further afield, so here’s my top tips for shows on the London fringe (plus one from the Barbican) and across the UK.

1 Medea, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam at the Barbican
Simon Stone’s sleekly contemporary recasting of Euripides is straight up amazing. Anchored by a storming performance from Marieke Heebink, it is as beautiful and brutal as they come. It’s also one of the few plays that has legit made me go ‘oh no’ out loud once a particular penny dropped. My review from 2014 is here but do yourself a favour and don’t read it until you’ve seen it.

Macbeth, Watermill Theatre
2018 saw some disappointing Macbeths and I was thus ready to swear off the play for 2019. But the Watermill Ensemble’s decision to tackle the play will certainly break that resolve, Paul Hart’s innovative direction of this spectacular actor-musician team will surely break the hoodoo…

3 Noughts and Crosses, Derby Theatre, and touring
Pilot Theatre follow on from their strong Brighton Rock with this Malory Blackman adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz, a Young Adult story but one which promises to speak to us all. Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2019”

Review: Jubilee, Lyric Hammersmith

Punk becomes very hard-going in a raucous but overlong Jubilee at the  Lyric Hammersmith

“Welcome to “Jubilee”. An iconic film most of you have never even heard of, adapted by an Oxbridge twat for a dying medium, spoiled by millennials, ruined by diversity, and constantly threatening to go all interactive. You poor fuckers.”

There’s a sense of Chris Goode’s adaptation of the 1978 Derek Jarman film Jubilee getting out ahead of itself as one of its key characters delivers the above speech pretty much as we begin. But no amount of self-awareness can give this production enough life to sustain its punkish attitude over a bloated running time.

Running at a reconfigured Lyric Hammersmith (design by Chloe Lamford) after playing the Royal Exchange late last year, there’s a definite statement of intent from the very beginning as the queer inhabitants of a squat take up residence. Cocks are waved, breasts are bared, queens are transported (Lizzie One Point Zero) and new kweens established, Travis Alabanza’s Amyl Nitrate. Continue reading “Review: Jubilee, Lyric Hammersmith”